Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte
Book Title: Betrayal on the Bayou
Genre: Historical Fiction
Interview by Heather L. Barksdale
What inspired you to write “Betrayal on the Bayou”?
Bize-Boutte: Embedded within my active imagination and actual Louisiana family history, this book had been rolling around in my head for about ten years before the frame and the heart of it all came to me at once and I sat down to write it. In my original concept, it was a sweeping biographical family tale, but after a while I knew I would never have enough factual information to fill in the blanks. Too much was being hidden and withheld by certain family members who will never come forward. It was then that I decided to write a novel.
When you encounter writer’s block, what do you do to break yourself out of it?
Bize-Boutte: I don’t believe in writer’s block. I embrace the ideas of “waiting for the muse” and “imagination at rest” when I am not writing, which is not often. I have learned the literary value of letting things simmer before they are written as well as writing them as soon as they reveal themselves. Both have equal power and neither state should deter the writer.
Are there any tips that you would like to share with other aspiring authors?
Bize-Boutte: Yes, this is from a poem of mine currently in progress that I plan to use in teaching writing classes:
Write it for you
Write it for me
Write it for them
Write so they see
Write your wishes
Write your truth
Write your encore
Write your youth
Write your real
Write your imagine
Write your fears
Write your passion
Write what you see
Write what you thought
Write who you are
Write what you brought
Write when it wakes you
Write when it shakes you
Then read out loud those words
To set them all free
And add your voice
To this life symphony
Copyright©2021 by Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte
Is there anything that you want readers to know about you, your writing process, or your book?
Bize-Boutte: Well, I have been writing since I was gifted a Smith Corona typewriter by my parents at age twelve. Although I did not write much during my thirty-one-year career in government, I never stopped conjuring stories, so when I retired, I began to “empty out” all of those stories, thoughts, poems and whatever else was in “my there.” But guess what, “my there” magically refills all the time!
As you can see from above, I also use words unconventionally, especially in my poetry. I tell people to not be afraid to do that if it is a part of their voice.
In my writing process, I generally get the entire concept of a book, poem or short story in my head all at once and I am able at that point to write the beginning, middle and end. In the case of Betrayal on the Bayou, it was almost fully formed as I set down to write it. Then I use my own brand of “storyboarding” to fill in any blanks, provide details and assure continuity. I do not write to word count. I do not write filler. I just write what comes and what makes me want to know what my characters will do next and what makes me want to turn the page to find out. When I feel I have done that, I then believe I have something to share with others.
In Betrayal on the Bayou, I describe the insidious, permanent damage caused by colorism, racism and betrayal in a fictional Louisiana town in the nineteenth century, sometimes in literal, shocking ways.
If "Betrayal on the Bayou" were adapted into a movie, who would you like to see cast to play your lead characters?
Bize-Boutte: This is quite the interesting question because I have been asked this by people who have read Betrayal on the Bayou, and yes, I have thought about it. So here goes:
Emile: Chris Pine
Clotilde: Margot Robbie
Margot: Journee Smollett
Vanessa: Natalie Dormer
Francisco: Esai Morales
What is your favorite book, genre, and/or author?
Bize-Boutte: I am a big fan of Walter Mosley and Stephen King for their sharp character development and storytelling. Two of my bedrock authors are James Baldwin and Barbara Neely: Baldwin for his fearless truth and Neely for her depiction of the complex Black woman. My “go to” poets are Niki Giovanni and my late sister, Patsy Bize who could “rhyme on a dime.” And I love James Grisham’s page turning crime and the late Sue Grafton and her wonderful crime solver Kinsey Milhone.
What are you working on next?
Bize-Boutte: I am always writing poetry so I may have another book of poetry coming up at some point. As for the next novel…I have two ideas “simmering” including a possible sequel to Betrayal on the Bayou, or something else entirely.
The muse will bring it soon.
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